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Auditor’s Office not removed from county budget

The Garden Island erroneously reported in its June 2 editorial that the Office of the County Auditor was eliminated during the Kauai County Council’s fiscal year 2017-18 budget decision-making session.

This is not true.

Eliminating the Auditor’s Office would require a vote by the people, as this office is mandated by the Charter of the County of Kauai.

To clarify, the council partially funded the office, using a term referred to in government accounting as “dollar funding.” With the exception of the building lease and electricity costs, which received three months of funding, and the copier machine under contract, $1 of funding was left as a placeholder for each salaried position and related benefits and other office expenses in place.

While this might be believed by some as “eliminating” the office, reporting it as such is a clear distortion of the facts. Here are the facts:

w The Office of the County Auditor is vacant. There are no employees in this office and yet the building is currently being leased by the county. This costs the county thousands of dollars per month for a vacant office.

w The council has aggressively tried to fill the county auditor position, without success. All resources have been exhausted by the council in this search, which included numerous advertisements in local and national publications and interviews with candidates who ultimately declined the position. This has been an expensive process costing thousands of dollars.

w With the challenge in hiring, the council has decided to utilize an executive search firm to continue its search for a county auditor. This process will take time and will definitely not occur by July 1.

The council remains in active recruitment and is committed to its search for a county auditor. All charter-mandated audit functions continue to be carried out in-house without any lapse in service. If and when the search for a county auditor is successful, the council will be able to reinstate funding for the Office of the County Auditor and necessary positions.

In the meantime, fully funding a vacant office for an entire year is fiscally irresponsible and not the best use of county tax dollars.

•••

Mel Rapozo is the chair of the Kauai County Council.

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